Nurses help injured senior attend family wedding

After a bone-wrenching fall down a staircase that severely injured her spine and ribs, Pelham Bay senior Maria Spataro was fairly certain she would not realize her dream of going to her first granddaughter’s wedding.

But a couple of nurses went out of their way to make sure that grandma got to church on time.

Spataro, an 84-year-old Pelham Bay resident, was looking forward to her granddaughter Dominique’s wedding at Our Lady of Assumption Church with great excitement. An accomplished seamstress, Spataro was busy one afternoon in April ironing a dress that she had made for the July 9 wedding.

Unfortunately, she fell backwards while carrying the dress upstairs in her home, sustaining injuries to her back, spine, and ribs that required two surgeries and massive amounts of physical therapy to correct.

After being taken to Jacobi Hospital and undergoing an orthopedic surgery to correct injuries to her spine and another to correct injuries to her back and neck, she was in a major funk. With a week to go, she was still in Jacobi Medical Center and it did not appear that she would be in any shape to go on the 9th.

If it had not been for two nurses Jacobi who caught wind of her plight and offered to help, she would not have been able to attend the wedding. On the big day, with help from Jacobi’s nursing staff, and escorted by volunteer nurses Susan LaMonica and Rosemarie Lifrieri, she was able to spend two hours in the church to see Dominique get married.

“After hearing of her situation, I came over to her and told her not to worry, that she was going to make her granddaughter’s wedding,” Lifrieri said. “Her granddaughter was sitting on her bed and she began to cry. She said that she could not believe that her grandmother was going to make it.”

After consulting with her doctor, it was decided that going to the wedding would be an important part of her recovery. Her family arranged for an ambulance to take her to the church and then back to the hospital after the ceremony.

“Susan and I rode in the ambulance over to the church, and we were with her the entire time,” Lifrieri said. “This was very important to her because she is very religious. All she wanted was to see her first granddaughter walk down the aisle.”

Lifrieri added, “She not only got to see that, but we also rolled her down the aisle. The doctor saw this as a therapeutic intervention.”

Spataro said that she was grateful to the nurses and the staff at Jacobi for helping her make the special day. The mother of three and grandmother of seven is now recovering from her injuries in Providence Rest, and is expected to reach her goal of getting to go back home soon.

“That was my first granddaughter to get married, and being there was a very important thing,” Spataro said. “For me, it was everything.”

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